Looking to net a few more in my numbers’ hunt, I threw a party last Friday and the wine list was to be centered on value and the hope that there would be a few that could wow us. Not expecting to make it too big, but just enough to play some good music (though, that mix could’ve been much better), hang out with a good group of friends and drink a lot of wine as an excuse to work down the count. It was a Friday, and if you were outside of the eye of retail it meant your workweek had drawn to an end.

The party began an hour after scheduled, people trickling in, in pairs and then hoards and by the time there were enough to consider it a small gathering we took the first wine of the evening from the fridge, transferred it to glassware, performing a quick sniff before tasting. The Honorable Chardonnay (#209) from Washington State, a familiar label from Charles Smith, was light and carefree on the palate with clean fruit (apples). We quickly polished off the first bottle; a glass for each of us segued into the Quail Ridge Chardonnay (#208). A wine that was oaky (steeped with oak chips?) with some green apple and little else on the palate. It was an enjoyable beverage in the scope of things, but not really my ideal everyday drinker. Another soldier down.

We were making good pace and, as the party picked up, more attendees showed the faster the wine flowed and we were onto the Rabbit Ridge Chardonnay (#207). This is where it got interesting, the Rabbit Ridge had some funky notes of buttered popcorn and bruised apples; on the palate it was tolerable but probably my last time drinking the Rabbit Ridge Chardonnay.

We moved to the reds beginning with a bottle of Quail Ridge Pinot Noir (#206) and found some simple notes of red fruits and not much else, a lighter body and the finish quickly receded from my mind… it was onto the next bottle—did I mention this was a party? There was no staying power (in the wines) and we were off to the next bottle, a 2007 Bell Syrah (#205), probably the best of the bunch (and not just by comparison alone) with a little more complexity on the nose, it had notes of red fruit and earth intertwined. On the palate the expression of fruit was tinged with a little spice that lingered a little longer than the wines before it. After a few sips another bottle was emptied, we were burning through the lineup, scratching each bottle off the chalkboard du jour.

The sixth bottle of the night was another Syrah; Cleb wines 2007 Syrah (#204) that was rather fruit forward and easy drinking for a wine that packed a 15.2% alcohol punch. It was able to distinguish itself from the other Syrah before it, being simple and delicious. The music swelled, a loud compilation of tunes played in the background and it was time for us to burn through the next seven-fifty of 2009 Finca Lalande Malbec (#203) before finishing with the Rabbit Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (#202) that had a better bouquet than the Rabbit Ridge Chardonnay earlier in the night. The Malbec had moderate tannins and was probably most structured in mouth feel while the Cab was another smooth operator.

We carried on, trying a few other wines that had already made it into the countdown (double-counting is not allowed) before the night wound down. Hours passed too quickly and it was late into Saturday Morning before the party couched as a tasting expired. The hunt was successful and a lot of the value wines served a useful role in making the party better, as they were able to deliver a good amount of fruit for a low price. Nothing too complicated for a party because after the first few bottles, the discerning palates vanish, and are replaced by a case of the gimmie-gimmies. Not the most exciting hunt but it was fruitful.